CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Eric Douglas received a call from South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp back in December.
It was routine enough but came with some news and an important question for the Mallard Creek (N.C.) offensive lineman. South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott was leaving, accepting the head coaching job at Georgia State.
Muschamp let Douglas know he was still coveted at South Carolina and inquired whether Douglas still desired to be a Gamecock.
“I told him, ‘I’m 110 percent; I don’t care who you bring in. I’m 100 percent committed to this program and I’m ready to make a change,’” Douglas said. “He was like, ‘Good, that’s what I wanted to hear. If not, I was going to come to Mallard Creek and I was going to have to beat you up.’
“I was like, ‘You don’t have to beat me up because I’m going to be right there with you.’”
So, there was no fight necessary between the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Douglas and Muschamp, a former safety at Georgia. And there was no fuss at all from Douglas through the process of seeing Elliott, the coach he committed to at USC, depart and Eric Wolford hired in January.
Douglas, who committed in spring 2016, said he wished Elliott well as he left Columbia and was fully on board with Wolford. The reason for Douglas’ ease in the transition came from his first visit to South Carolina, when former Gamecocks star Marcus Lattimore shared a message that lingered with Douglas.
“Mostly, it wasn’t me committed to a coach,” Douglas said. “It was a 40-year decision for me. My first time going up there, I heard Marcus Lattimore say that. Him saying that really touched me. It’s true. It’s not really a four-year decision; it’s a 40-year decision. Football is not going to last forever. Obviously, I want to make it to the NFL, but that doesn’t stand for the National Football League. That’s Not For Long. That’s what I looked for. Banking off my education.”
When it came to an offensive line coach and the change from Elliott to Wolford, Douglas kept that in mind. He was left willing to work with whomever Muschamp hired, but he wound up happy it was Wolford.
The former South Carolina offensive line coach was hired back as a Gamecock after spending the past two years as an assistant offensive line coach with the San Francisco 49ers and five years as the head coach at Youngstown State.
“The first time I got to meet him, I was just intrigued by the pedigree that he had with coaching in the NFL and coaching at Youngstown,” Douglas said. “Just him showing his knowledge of the game and his love for the game, that’s what I love to see. It’s a guy that I can’t wait to play for. You need a guy that has the same fire as you. If you don’t have the same fire, you can’t really play for him. I look forward to going down there for the next few years and achieving some of the goals I have set forward with coach ‘Wolf.’”
Douglas said his first conversation with Wolford helped convince him — as if he needed it. The new offensive line coach called Douglas, talked through his film and praised his versatility as something aspired for his offensive line. He also said words that still ring in Douglas’ ears: Wolford wants him to come in and make an immediate impact on the offensive line.
Now, Douglas is ready to arrive on campus in Columbia in late May and is ready to roll with Wolford and the Gamecocks without a fight.
“I’m going to University of South Carolina,” Douglas said. “It didn’t really matter if coach Muschamp brings his wife as the offensive line coach. I will play for whoever.
“I am committed to a program and committed to making a change.”